Marriott, Ritz-Carlton in Jakarta Hit: Over a Half-Dozen DeadBombs went off at two hotels: The JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta and the Ritz-Carlton next door, hotels that were connected by a tunnel. At this point, it looks like two suicide bombers went off, first killing five people at the Marriott - plus the bomber - then a few minutes later killing one person at the Ritz-Carlton - plus the bomber. So, counting the weapon systems, a total of eight people known dead.
There's no end of a mess to clean up, too: and the possibility that the death toll may climb.
The good news yesterday was that another bomb was found before it went off.
Checking in, Checking OutThis may be a new wrinkle: it looks like the suicide bombers, and maybe more people associated with the attack, checked in before blowing up. I'm pretty sure that hoteliers in Indonesia and elsewhere are reviewing their arrangements for protecting their guests from 'outside' attacks - and from each other.
Certainty Increases With DistanceAs so often happens, those least closely connected with investigating the attack seem the most certain about who is responsible. A western news service identified the attack as a "...Revival of Jihadi Terror..." (Bloomberg) The anonymous "security analysts" could be right. Suicide attacks are a trademark of those lions of Islam who convince somebody else that they'll get an all-expense-paid harem if they blow themselves up.
On the other hand, maybe this is a new, non-Islamic sort of suicide bomber.
I think it's likely enough that this is the work of some bunch who think they're making the world safe for Islam, or something of that sort. But it's early days yet.
Another Look at the HeadlinesI see that the death toll is now nine, and that Indonesian police are looking at DNA left by the suicide bombers. (AFP)
Also, that it looks like Jemaah Islamiyah might be responsible. That's the outfit that killed 202 people in Bali, back in 2002. Indonesian police say the bombs used yesterday are 'identical' to the sort used by Jemaah Islamiyah. Yesterday's attacks were the worst in Indonesia since 2005. (AFP)
Here's What I Think: We Don't Know YetAnonymous experts notwithstanding, I think it's 'way too early to know just what went on in Jakarta yesterday. The business of checking in before blowing up seems to be something new - and that may be significant. At a minimum, that's going to have people in the hospitality industry taking another look at how they protect their guests.
Beyond that, judging from what's in the news, what we have is suspicions about who is responsible, a rising body count, and what appears to be a serious effort by law enforcement in Indonesia to find out exactly who is responsible.
I'm just glad that the death toll is so low. From the sounds of it, the bombings could have been a lot worse. Cold comfort to friends and family of the victims, of course.
- "Indonesia, 'Allah Akbar,' and Muslim Tolerance"
(August 22, 2008)
- "Indonesian Deradicalization Program Working: In Indonesia, at Least"
(January 15, 2008)
- "Islam, Christianity, Culture, and Kooks"
(November 26, 2007)
- "Not All Muslims are Terrorists"
(September 26, 2007)
- "Indonesian police examine remains for clues"
AFP (July 18, 2009)
- "Indonesia's Economy May Be Unharmed by Bombings, Citigroup Says"
Bloomberg (July 18, 2009)
- "Police identify two Australian killed in Jakarta blasts"
Brisbane Times (July 18, 2009)
- "No news of 'Singaporean' bombing victim"
AsiaOne (July 18, 2009)
- "Ritz, Marriott Attacks in Jakarta Show Revival of Jihadi Terror"
Bloomberg (July 18, 2009)
- That's the opinion of anonymous "security analysts" - and they could be right.
- "Police say Jakarta hotel bombers were guests"
CNN (July 17, 2009)